Courage is the most important of all virtues,
because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently
~ Maya Angelou
I was always a let the other kid go first, because she'll do it better kind of kid.
I wasn't brave.
Not when it came to talking in front of the class, calling a friend on the phone, putting my hand up when I knew the answer.
When I finally summoned the courage to audition for a school musical in grade six—because I loved to sing—I was crushed to hear that even with my perfect pitch and beautiful tone, I wasn't loud enough for anyone to hear and didn't make the cut.
I see a lot of the same personality traits in my children and we work hard to help them overcome those hurdles.
It's not that we want them to achieve things we didn't, we only want them to believe they can.
We spend a lot of time and invest heavily in our children's extracurricular activities. I know it surprises and baffles a lot of people—who are on the outside looking in—but there's nothing we'd rather be doing.
We want them to understand that the hours of classes and practice and performances are not about ribbons and trophies and applause.
They are opportunities to find courage.
Courage we hope will grow so strong and become so integral to who they are that no word or action or person can take it away.
This past weekend was the start of recital season for the tiny performers in our family.
To put into words what I feel when I watch them on a stage is impossible.
I soak up every second, like it matters more than air.
I am lifted out of my seat by joy and gratitude.
But the moments I look at mostly closely, can't be seen from my seat in the theatre.
Those moments begin in rehearsals and hide backstage on performance day.
They live in the moments before my children stand underneath the lights.
They are let the other kid go first kind of kids, too.
And we know that confidence, criticism, and competition will make them falter.
We want to be there to help them turn their gaze inward instead of out.
To stand behind them in the wings and listen to them tell us how they feel when it's over.
To help them find their courage when it gets lost.
And remind them that it will be there to help them:
stand in the front,
stand in the back,
It doesn't matter how many stages, or classrooms or places they use that courage.
It matters most that they know it belongs to them.
It matters most that they never feel like they couldn't try again.